• The 60 Second Leader
  • Seven Secrets of Inspired Leaders
  • The Little Book of Leadership
  • Leadership Hub for Corporates
  • Learning to Live with Huntington's Disease

Phil's Books blog

How to Lead in 2012: Follow Happy Henry’s Recipe

Relax! A Happy Business Story

By Henry Stewart, Cathy Busani and James Moran

You can download a free pdf copy of this book on this link:


60-Second Main Learning Points

In this fictional tale, a highly stressed small business owner discovers a new way to run his company.


What would your organization be like if you completely trusted everybody? What would you have to do to get to that point?

Chapter 1: About Trust and Information

  • Without information, people cannot take responsibility – with information, people cannot avoid taking responsibility.
  • Agree principles that everyone can work within.
  • Train the staff to do the jobs you’re trusting them to do.
  • Trust them to do it.

Chapter 2: Celebrate Mistakes

  • Celebrate your mistakes and learn from them.
  • Imagine what it would be like to work somewhere where you never got blamed for your mistakes… where mistakes were seen as positive things, as outcomes of risk and innovation.
  • You can’t learn from your mistakes if you don’t make any mistakes – go make some.

Weekly Mistake meetings – people talk about the mistakes that they made and how they could do things differently. Admit when you, the boss, make a mistake.

Chapter 3: What to Judge Your People On

  • Look at how your people’s targets fit within the company principles and targets – get your people to see the big picture.
  • Judge your people on the results they achieve, not the number of hours they work.
  • Recognize when people have done good work, give your feedback personally and make it specific.

How are they going to know how much you appreciate them unless you tell them? Recognize when anyone does a good job and make sure they all know that you’re pleased with their work. By showing that you appreciate them you’ll increase their motivation and enthusiasm and consequently improve their morale.

Chapter 4: Listening is Different From Hearing

  • It’s not enough to hear, you have to really listen to people.
  • People say more than they actually “say”.
  • If someone is acting out of character, ask them what is really wrong – and how you can help.
  • Frame conversations to help people listen better.

Chapter 5: Believe the Best

Always believe the best of your staff. Believing the best should form the basis of every communication.

  • Believe the best of people.
  • Give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Listen without judgement or assumption.
  • Ask how you can help them.

Chapter 6: Hire For Attitude Train for Skill

  • Hire people your existing staff will be happy working with.
  • Skills can be learnt, a good attitude is either there or not there.
  • If somebody is not happy in their current job, see if they can do something else better.
  • Set your staff up to succeed – exploit their strengths, not their weaknesses.

Chapter 8: Job Ownership and Full Involvement from Everyone

  • Create a framework which gives people ownership over their jobs.
  • Get everyone involved in the decisions that affect them.
  • If people are involved in decision, they will be more committed to making those decisions work.

Chapter 9: Work/Life Balance

  • Help people to balance their home lives with their working lives.
  • If people are happier with the balance of their lives, they will be more motivated and produce better work.

Chapter 10: Putting it All Together

  • People work best when they feel good about themselves.
  • How would your organization be different if management focused on making people feel good?
  • Ask your people for ideas – they may know how things work better than you!

Author of this book, Henry Stewart, in these videos, talks about some of the learning from the book:

http://thinkers50.com/sharing/video-library/ ( 5.24)

http://thinkers50.com/sharing/video-library/ (2.28)

The New Capitalist Manifesto by Umair Haque

The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business, by Umair Haque

What can I say, other than that I completely agree with the premise behind this book by Umair Haque – that the way too many large corporations are led delivers ‘thin value’: value spread thinly at the top and not encompassing all of the stakeholders – and that it’s time for new leadership and a new value proposition. Some companies are doing it already. Time for more. Here’s the blurb from publishers Harvard Business School:

“Welcome to the worst decade since the Great Depression. Trillions of dollars of financial assets destroyed; trillions in shareholder value vanished; worldwide GDP stalled.

“But this isn’t a financial crisis, or even an economic one, says Umair Haque. It’s a crisis of institutions-ideals inherited from the industrial age. These ideals include rampant exploitation of resources, top-down command of resource allocations, withholding of information from stakeholders to control them, and a single-minded pursuit of profit for its own sake.

“All this has produced “thin value”-short-term economic gains that accrue to some people far more than others, and that don’t make us happier or healthier. It has left resources depleted and has spawned conflict, organizational rigidity, economic stagnation, and nihilism.

In The New Capitalist Manifesto, Haque advocates a new set of ideals:

(1)Renewal: Use resources sustainably to maximize efficiencies,

(2) Democracy: Allocate resources democratically to foster organizational agility,

(3) Peace: Practice economic non-violence in business,

(4) Equity: Create industries that make the least well off better off, and

(5) Meaning: Generate payoffs that tangibly improve quality of life.

Yes, adopting these ideals requires bold and sustained changes. But some companies-Google, Walmart, Nike-are rising to the challenge. In this bold manifesto, Haque makes an irresistible business case for following their lead.”

Yep, I’ll buy into that.

Phil Dourado

Buy-In. John Kotter’s new book

Harvard Professor John Kotter is creator of the famous Eight Step Change Framework for leading change. Prof Kotter’s new book, Buy-in, is about how to prevent new ideas getting shot down.

In the book, Prof Kotter lists the typical objections that new ideas encounter and gives you useful ‘come back’ arguments for each objection. In the latest Hub TV clip (that’s a link), he gives you a brief example. Some of them are obvious. But, your team and their direct reports may find this way of rehearsing the pros and cons useful for when they have to defend a new idea.

The 60 second book summary

There’s a 60 second summary of the book on John Kotter’s website here .

The Game

A bit of fun: There’s a game created by Prof Kotter’s team to help you or your team anticipate where objections will come from – the type of people who object to new ideas and typical objections.

One criticism from me: Kotter presents all these objectors as ‘difficult’ people with an agenda or axe to grind. That’s often not the case. Often people who challenge new ideas are sincere and not just trying to be difficult. It is important to challenge new ideas so they can be tested in argument, and so any potential problems with them can be worked out in advance by adapting the idea. Your critics are often your best friends in making an idea strong by spotting its weaknesses so they can be fixed. So, don’t assume critics are ‘the enemy’ or just being difficult. Bear that in mind and this is still a useful exercise (and a bit of fun):

Three more one-minute videos

If you like the 60 second clip in Hub TV from Professor Kotter, there are three more clips from him, with three more objections and how to argue back on the Harvard site on this link

Phil Dourado

True North, by Bill George

Bill George is speaking at Leaders in London later this year.

60 Second Summary

* Leadership is about what makes you different; there is no perfect model of a leader
* Stop trying to act like a leader; think ‘leadership’ not ‘leader’
* There are five dimensions of authentic leadership: Purpose; Practising solid values; Heart; Relationships; Self-discipline
* Engage people’s hearts and minds behind the organization’s purpose, rather than behind an individual leader
* You can use authentic leadership to become a market leading organization; it’s about high performance, not about being ‘nice’ for the sake of it

Longer Summary

Bill George was an inspirational, high-achieving leader at the medical instrument company Medtronic, which he grew to become the world’s leading medical technology supplier. Elected CEO in 1991, he became one of the most admired CEOs of his generation as he grew Medtronic’s market capitalization from $1.1 billion to $60 billion, averaging 35% a year from 1996 to 2002. He then became one of the world’s foremost teachers of leadership, as a Harvard Professor and best-selling author.

Most leaders, says George in True North (the follow-up to his book Authentic Leadership) , act the way they think a leader should act, based on leader archetypes (think Churchill, Jack Welch), or the traits, styles and characteristics that have been identified in more than 1,000 studies of leadership over the past fifty years. But, those who see leadership as emulating great leaders or acting out a set of competencies don’t truly lead, says George. You can only effectively lead by finding your authentic voice.

“In the 21st century, without authenticity in leadership,
organizations can’t develop sustained growth.”

For George, leadership isn’t a job title, or a mantle that you put on when you walk into a leadership position, or a set of behaviours defined in your HR Department’s leadership competencies framework. It is the sum total of who you are.

Leadership Is About What Makes You Different

Finding your authentic leadership is the leader’s equivalent of what the business guru Tom Peters calls ‘defining Brand You’. While most leadership theory is spent on codifying what is the same about leadership, George reminds us what the marketplace itself teaches us – sameness creates commodities, difference is what stands out.

No-one can be authentic by trying to be like someone else. One of the 125 leaders George interviewed to define authentic leadership used to be Jack Welch’s assistant at GE in the 1980s. Everyone was running around trying to be like Jack, he explained. Nobody could take that seriously. You need to be who you are, not try to emulate someone else.

Reminds me of my favourite quote about all leadership being autobiography: “Abraham Lincoln was once asked how long it took him to write The Gettysburg Address, the speech that defined a nation. He replied, ‘All my life’.”

There Is No Perfect Profile Of A Leader

All the academic studies have failed to find the profile of a perfect leader, says George, because leaders are highly complex human beings, people who have distinctive qualities that cannot be sufficiently described by lists or traits or characteristics. Once we realise this, says George, and also realise that leadership is not a position, we can stop being bent out of shape by trying to fit into the straitjacket of leadership definitions and instead accept four liberating new laws of leadership:

1. You do not have to be born with the characteristics of a leader
2. You do not have to wait for a tap on the shoulder
3. You do not have to be at the top of your organization
4. You can step up and lead at any point in your life

The Five Dimensions Of Authentic Leadership

Traditional leaders focus on their own success and on getting loyal subordinates to follow them to achieve that success. Authentic leaders, by contrast, inspire others to lead around a shared purpose, rather than around the leader.

This doesn’t mean authentic leaders are perfect. In fact, it is a defining feature of authenticity that you admit to your flaws rather than hide behind the mystique of the leader who can never make a mistake.

George’s research shows, he says, that there are five dimensions to an authentic leader

1. Purpose: Without knowing your purpose (why you lead) you are at the mercy of ego
2. Practising solid values: Integrity is the core value. If your practice slips and slides under pressure, people quickly lose confidence in your leadership
3. Heart: This means having passion for your work and the courage to make difficult decisions
4. Relationships: Authentic leaders develop enduring relationships
5. Self-discipline: Setting high standards, taking responsibility for outcomes, and holding others accountable for their performance, takes strong self-discipline

Critique of True North and its interpretation of ‘authentic’

Following on from Warren Bennis

According to George, an authentic leader has found his or her inner voice and remains true to it. This is Warren Bennis stuff, for anyone who’s read Bennis. And it’s no surprise True North is part of the ‘Warren Bennis Signature Series’ imprint. George echoes the Dean of Leadership (as the FT calls Bennis), when he says that true authentic leaders have commonly been through an extremely tough experience that reveals their true nature to themselves – the death of a loved one, bankruptcy, overcoming serious illness.

Bennis observed that authentic leaders are often forged in the crucible of overcoming adversity, whether as a child or later in their career. This echoes Hemingway’s “The world breaks all of us. But some are strong at the broken places.” And it plays to the heroic, romantic leadership model, even if unintentionally.

We tend to have an archetype in our head of leaders as infallible, certain of where they are going, moving from success to success. Even George’s phrase ‘True North’ reinforces that image. But, great leaders – authentic leaders – often don’t feel that way when they are in the middle of achieving great things.

Great leaders don’t necessarily ‘feel’ great when they are in the middle of it

Anne Mulcahy, the CEO credited with rescuing Xerox from its downward spiral, is a case in point. The emotional roller coaster of trying to keep people at Xerox motivated and pull the company back from the brink was so draining that, at one point, Mulcahy described to George, she was on the way home, drained, and had to pull over to the side of the road. She sat there, temporarily unable to move, and said to herself, “I don’t know where to go. I don’t want to go home. There’s just no place to go.”

The boxer Jack Dempsey once supposedly said champions get up when they can’t. Dempsey would have said, Mulcahey ‘got up when she couldn’t’. And she is now widely praised as the woman who saved Xerox (a claim she would herself deny, as she credits a lot of people at Xerox with saving the company). That’s the test of an authentic leader, says George.

And, of course it applies to people at all levels, not just the top of an organisation. You lead your own life by refusing to be knocked out of shape and by getting up when you are knocked down.

Can a ‘not nice’ leader be an ‘authentic leader’?

The over-riding impression of an ‘authentic leader’ from True North is of a leader in George’s own image: he was a brilliant, empathetic leader at Medtronic (inventor of the pacemaker), which he grew by encouraging leadership at all levels, driven by the higher purpose of saving lives. The 125 leaders he profiled for his research into authentic leaders tend to be like that, too, kind of tough but fair benevolent teacher/leader figures.

Which raises the question: is an apparently autocratic, empathy-lite leader such as the UK’s Alan Sugar or Rupert Murdoch an authentic leader? Of course they are, in the sense that they are honest and true to themselves. What you see is what you get. But, I’m not sure either of them have been through the deep inner journey of enlightenment and understanding self and others that Bill George says is necessary to be an authentic leader.

Nor does being authentic mean being nice, though George tends towards analyzing leaders in this book who exhibit his own traits: nice, empathetic, challenging, values-driven. So, just as all leadership is autobiography, True North and Authentic Leadership can be seen as tinged with George’s own autobiography.

All leadership (books) is (are) autobiography

I once heard Tom Peters, in the middle of a rant about how wrong Jim Collins (author of Good To Great) is to champion quiet, ‘ego lite’ leaders, suddenly break off and say, as an aside, “The older I get the more convinced I become that whatever we think we are writing about, we are writing about ourselves.” That is searingly honest and insightful.

The famously charismatic and shout-y Peters champions loud and proud and colourful leaders with big personalities (like, er, himself). The quietly-spoken, introspective, Collins champions quietly-spoken, introspective, non ego driven leaders. Therefore their research, and the people they hold up as objectively-discovered great leaders that just happen to emerge from the research (Collins at least) clearly aren’t as objectively discovered as they would like to think. There appears to be a good deal of projection going on.

Similarly, George tends to equate ‘authentic’ leadership with his own type of caring (but demanding: that’s how he achieved results at Medtronic) leadership. I think it would be interesting to study equally authentic ‘not nice’ leaders, often those who appear to be driven by ego and the need to win.

Is Rupert Murdoch an authentic leader? Of course he is, as he is true to himself. Is he nice to work for? That’s a different question. Does he shape News International in his own image, rather than aligning people behind a shared set of universal values they all buy into? Of course he does. Ego-driven and Authentic aren’t mutually exclusive, whereas George fudges the logic a bit and seems to conclude they are. I wish they were. But, I’m not convinced of it.

Background: How Bill George led Medtronic : “From ‘I’ to ‘We'”

This isn’t in the book: I researched it separately as it makes useful background before you read the book.

George received his BSc in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, and MBA from Harvard. His early career was spent as an executive with Honeywell and Litton Industries, and he served in the US Department of Defense.

His definition of leadership involves developing the organization so that passion and inspiration are built into the system, not merely dependent on the CEO, an objective he put to the test by setting himself a ten-year term limit as CEO of Medtronic. His strategy for embedding leadership proved to be right, as Medtronic’s growth path is just as strong today, when it stands at 222nd largest company in the US by market capitalisation, up from 349th in the year George stepped down.

George says the key to effective leadership today is in the transformation from ‘I’ to ‘We’, which he put into practice at Medtronic, inventor of the pacemaker. This involves focussing on the leadership of others, to embed leadership in the system. At Medtronic, people at all levels – 30,000 employees – were shown how to link what they do every day with the company’s core purpose, so they could take the lead in their own jobs. The first thing George himself did on joining the company was to don a surgical gown and spend 120 days watching procedures like open heart surgery, to learn how the company’s products could be improved.

George spotted early on that the company lacked a closed-loop performance management system and the ability to execute plans on schedule. For instance, it took Medtronic four years to bring a new pacemaker to market where competitors were doing it in two. Under George’s stewardship, that time was cut to 16 months.

George also discovered that Medtronic had individuals who were incredibly knowledgeable about the business but who lacked critical leadership skills. The company had grown up faster than the leadership teams. So he gave some people who were great functional managers the opportunity to hold leadership roles. He created the ‘Medtronic Fellows’ programme, for high-potential leaders to go to business school.

Leadership Demands Accountability And High Performance

To ensure strategy execution, George was ruthless on performance. At first this confused employees – he talked about empowering them as leaders, but came down hard when they didn’t hit deadlines. With ‘empowered’ local leadership comes the responsibility to perform, and George was relentless in driving this home. He met bi-monthly or monthly with business groups, travelling across the US and around the world to meet them rather than bringing them to head office, to review performance. George also led a worldwide reorganization away from multilayered management to structure around business units, bringing the organization closer to customers.

Known for his integrity and authenticity, George has translated his experience into a practical values-based leadership that delivers results. His research at Harvard Business School into 125 successful leaders helped him codify Authentic Leadership, as he calls it, leading to the creation of Harvard’s MBA in Authentic Leadership, which he teaches.

Bill George now serves as a Director of Goldman Sachs, Novartis, ExxonMobil and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In 2002, George was selected as one of “The 25 Most Influential Business People of the Last 25 Years”.

Bill George is speaking at Leaders in London later this year

Phil Dourado Copyright (c) The Leadership Hub

The New Leaders or Primal Leadership

This book is better known as Primal Leadership. Inexplicably, given the power of that title, the publisher in the UK decided to label it The New Leaders (yawn).

Daniel Goleman and his co-authors Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee helped pioneer the now accepted idea that leaders don’t get effective results with logic alone, and that they need to deploy Emotional Intelligence to get the best out of people and organizations…and themselves.

Here are selected excerpts to give you a flavour:

“For too long managers have seen emotions at work as noise cluttering the rational operation of organizations. But the time for ignoring emotions as irrelevant to business has passed. What organizations everywhere need now is to realize the benefits of primal leadership by cultivating leaders who generate the emotional resonance that lets people flourish.”

Primal Leadership Definition
This emotional task of the leader is primal – that is, first – in two senses: It is both the original and the most important act of leadership.”

Resonance vs Dissonance
When leaders drive emotions positively we call this effect resonance. When they drive emotions negatively, leaders spawn dissonance, undermining the emotional foundations that let people shine. Whether an organization withers or flourishes depends to a remarkable extent on the leaders’ effectiveness in this primal emotional dimension.”

Laughter: the shortest distance between two people
(NB As far as I know, Goleman took that line from stand-up comedian Victor Borge).
“In a neurological sense, laughing represents the shortest distance between two people because it instantly interlocks limbic systems. This immediate, involuntary reaction, as one researcher puts it, involves “the most direct communication possible between people – brain to brain – with our intellect just going for the ride, in what might be called a ‘limbic lock’.”

Leadership, not leader
As the sociologist Max Weber argued a century ago, institutions that endure thrive not because of one leader’s charisma, but because they cultivate leadership throughout the system.

Changes to the EI model
“Readers familiar with earlier versions of the EI model will notice some changes here. Where we formerly listed five main domains of EI, we now have simplified the model into four domains – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management – with eighteen competencies instead of the original twenty-five (see the chart). For instance, an EI domain would be social awareness; a competency in that domain would be empathy or service. The result is an emotional intelligence model that more clearly links specific clusters of competencies to the underlying brain dynamics that drive them.”

EI CAN be learnt
“These EI competencies are not innate talents, but learned abilities, each of which has a unique contribution to making leaders more resonant, and therefore more effective.
That fact speaks to an urgent business need, one with great impact on financial results: helping leaders to lead more effectively.”

Warren Bennis, On Becoming A Leader

OK, I have to ‘fess up to being a fan of Warren Bennis, whom the Financial Times dubbed ‘The Dean of Leadership’. I chaired a leadership seminar he gave in Florida a couple of years ago and he was possibly the nicest man I have ever met: wise, generous with his insights, and he carried on an email conversation with me afterwards to help me clarify my own thoughts on leadership.

Here are some of the bits that I find most inspiring from Bennis’ book On Becoming A Leader:

Drucker on what leadership is for

As Peter Drucker has pointed out, the chief object of leadership is the creation of a human community held together by the work bond for a common purpose.

Example is all. Integrity and Authority

Emerson says, “What you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”

Authenticity: Invent yourself

I cannot stress too much the need for self-invention. To be authentic is literally to be your own author (the words derive from the same Greek root), to discover your own native energies and desires, and then to find your own way of acting on them.

On learning and Leading

* One: You are your own best teacher.
* Two: Accept responsibility. Blame no one.
* Three: You can learn anything you want to learn.
* Four: True understanding comes from reflecting on your experience

Learn by watching and emulating leaders you admire

“One thing I did when I first got here was to sit in the office of the studio head all day, day after day, and watch and listen to everything he said or did. So when writers would come, when producers would come, I would just be there. When he was making phone calls, I would sit and listen to him, and I would hear him contend with what a person in his position contends with. How does he say no to someone, how does he say yes, how does he duck, how does he wheedle and coax? I would have a yellow pad with me, and all through my first many months, any phrase I didn’t understand, any piece of industry jargon, any name, any manoeuvre I didn’t follow, any of the deal-making business financial stuff I didn’t understand, I’d write it down, and periodically I would go trotting around to find anyone I could get to answer.” (Sidney Pollack, the movie director)

Leaders and Failure / Mistakes

“In organizations where mistakes are not allowed, you get two types of counterproductive behaviour. First, since mistakes are ‘bad’, if they’re committed by the people at the top, the feedback arising from those mistakes has to be ignored or selectively reinterpreted, in order that those top people can pretend that no mistakes have been made. So it doesn’t get fixed. Second, if they’re committed by people lower down in the organization, mistakes get concealed.”

Leadership & Instinct

A part of whole-brain thinking includes learning to trust what Emerson called the “blessed impulse,” the hunch, the vision that shows you in a flash the absolutely right thing to do. Everyone has these visions; leaders learn to trust them.

Leaders & Innovation

A leader is, by definition, an innovator. He does things other people haven’t done or don’t do. He does things in advance of other people. He makes new things. He makes old things new.

It’s not about Charisma

Some would argue that the answer is charisma, and either you have it or you don’t. I don’t think it’s that simple. In the course of my study, I met many leaders who couldn’t be described as charismatic by any sort of rhetorical stretch, but they nevertheless managed to inspire an enviable trust and loyalty in their co-workers. And through their abilities to get people on their side, they were able to effect necessary changes in the culture of their organizations and make real their guiding visions.

Buy The Book: Warren Bennis,On Becoming A Leader, Random House Business Books. First published 1989.

The Kids Are Alright / Got Game

I’m usually wary of books that change their name – this one used to be called ‘Got Game’ when it was published as a hardback in 2004 – but in this incarnation, it was recommended by Euan Semple and Johnnie Moore, so I thought it worth another look.

And it is.

Beck and Wade’s research findings and views on how to lead and be led by the gaming generation in the workplace are illuminating. I particularly like the section heading “Leaders? We don’t need no stinking leaders” and the explanation that “For starters, in the world in which gamers grow up, leaders are basically useless…”.

True. But there again, even for the non-gamer generation, leaders are basically useless. Some research I was involved with a while back showed that nine out of ten managers find their own line manager or organizational leader ‘uninspiring’. In my book that makes ninety per cent of supposed ‘leaders’ in organizations useless.

I’m not convinced by some of the arguments in The kids are alright, such as differing attitudes to risk when you have a reset button to push lead to the need to help younger employees manage risk more effectively.

But, there are useful explanations to ease culture clash in the workplace, for example, in pointing out that a manager approaching a gamer generation employee who has one ear piece in their ear, listening to their iPod, an IM window open on their desktop, two documents and a U Tube window open, and may not even stop using the keyboard as the manager is talking to them, may indeed be listening. Just not the way you and I listen.

It’s not that the gamer generation can multi-task, say Beck and Wade. Technically, there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Their brains are just more adept at leaping from task to task and back again in ways that disorientate non-gamers. They don’t have the timelag.

The New Culture of Desire by Melinda Davis

I bought this book – The New Culture of Desire, by Melinda Davis – because I was tempted by the big Tom Peters endorsement of it and because the author was presented as the brains behind the futurist Faith Popcorn. I have a lot of respect for Faith Popcorn, so bought the book. Turns out Faith Popcorn is the brains behind Faith Popcorn. There is some good thinking in this book, but the hype – the attempt to coin new marketing buzzwords in particular – shrouds it too well. Don’t bother buying it. I extracted the best bit, a list of how consumers are different today and what they want, and summarised it in The Customer Blog entry for March 13, 2007. You can find it over there. It’s worth a look.